What's New for 2006
There are no significant changes to the Lexus LS 430 this year, though the adoption of new and more accurate SAE engine measuring procedures by Lexus has resulted in a slight drop in the amount of stated power for the V8.
For a company whose motto is the obviously difficult "passionate pursuit of perfection," Lexus' formula for success has been relatively simple: Just aim for the fences. That's exactly what Toyota's then-new upstart luxury division did with the original LS 400 for the introduction of its brand back in 1989. Its spiffy flagship sedan was a smash hit the moment it reached market. Of course, some of that had to do with a bargain price subsidized by Toyota in an effort to launch the nameplate.
But even a series of hefty price "readjustments" by European makes couldn't slow the runaway sales success of the first-generation Lexus LS 400. Blessed with a smooth, powerful V8 and superb build quality, the LS 400 quickly zoomed to the head of the luxury sedan class, claiming a slew of customer satisfaction and vehicle dependability awards while building a loyal owner base. When it came time for a model revision in 1995, Lexus decided to not fix what wasn't broke. The end result was even more acclaim. So when a third-generation makeover was slated for 2001, exactly how did Lexus plan on improving what some consider the benchmark sedan in the premium luxury segment? Simple: By going after even more -- more design edginess, more interior room, more comfort, more features, more performance, more safety and more technology. For 2004, Lexus gave its flagship a midcycle freshening.
The 2006 Lexus LS 430 is still one of the finest luxury sedans you can buy. Its V8 engine is powerful and its interior is supremely comfortable. One of the reasons that Lexus became such a powerhouse is that it was able to offer its flagship sedan at a price much lower than its European competitors. Now, fully optioned, the Lexus car pushes the lofty $70,000-plus mark, the dangerous treading waters of some of the finest automobiles in the world. But take a test-drive, and you may well find the Lexus LS 430 worth the price of admission.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Lexus LS 430 offers plenty of standard and optional features. All cars come with 17-inch wheels, adaptive headlights that swivel during cornering, dual-zone climate control (with oscillating air registers), a 14-way power driver seat with memory and 10-way power for the front passenger, auto-dimming mirrors, an in-dash CD changer, a moonroof, a rear sunshade and a power trunk closer. On the options list, you'll find two upgraded leather upholstery trims, heated and cooled front seats, a voice-activated navigation system with rear backup camera and a 240-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system. The Custom Luxury package includes these items and tacks on rear-seat heaters and power door closers. Buyers have their choice of laser-based adaptive cruise control, or a radar-based system that includes the Pre-Collision system, which detects and prepares for unavoidable impacts. Still not enough? The aptly named Ultra Luxury package gives you all of that plus SmartAccess, which allows you to start the car without a key, Lexus Link telematics, a smoother riding air suspension, upgraded power-adjustable, heated/cooled rear seats and a separate rear climate control system.
Powertrains and Performance
A 4.3-liter V8 engine powers the Lexus LS 430, offering 278 horsepower and 312 pound-feet of torque. The engine is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission (with an automanual gate) driving the rear wheels.
A full complement of airbags (side, head curtain and knee), four-wheel antilock brakes with BrakeAssist, traction control, the VSC stability control system and a tire-pressure monitor are all in place to ensure maximum safety. There's also an optional Pre-Collision system that uses radar to detect unavoidable collisions and then prepares for impact by tightening the seatbelts, applying maximum braking force and activating sport mode on air suspension-equipped LS 430 models.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cabin of this Lexus car is warm and luxurious given its high-quality leather, abundance of rich walnut or maple trim, sharp electroluminescent gauges and wonderfully comfortable seats. There is plenty of headroom and legroom for both front and rear passengers, and the large trunk holds 20.2 cubic feet of luggage.
A serene car in nearly all situations, the 2006 Lexus LS 430 is great for urban commuting and long-distance drives. The suspension neatly soaks up road irregularities, especially when equipped with the air suspension setup found in the Ultra Luxury package. Previous LS 400s weren't known for inspired driving dynamics, and while capable when the road turns twisty, the 430 does little to engage its driver on an emotional level. If you want passion from your super-luxury sedan, an Audi A8 or a BMW 7 Series will suit you better.